Dragons are meant to protect. They are designed that way, the need to defend humanity woven into their very genetic makeup. They are incapable of lifting so much as a claw against others except under the most dire of circumstances, unable to wish dead anything but Thread. All of their aggression is channeled straight toward that evil and ancient energy. Fighting Thread is the purpose of their existence.
So what happens when Thread disappears?SINTHERA WEYR
It had been five hundred Turns sine the last Pass ended. Pern was finally safe. Thread would never return again. That much was certain. The riders knew it. The dragons knew it. Though some still doubted - after all, Thread came back once before when it wasn't supposed to - Holders knew it as well. The Pernese people no longer lived under a hostile sky. Over the centuries, they became accustomed to that - that feeling of security. Of being able to let their lands grow green and their children play outside without fear. The dragonriders, too, became used to their new position in life. They scattered, wandered, and consolidated into groups as they chose, finding whatever work was needed and getting it done. For them, it was simple.
It was not so simple for the dragons.
True, their ultimate goal had been accomplished - Thread was gone. But with it had disappeared the dragons' purpose for living. Their lives became meaningless, they little more than beasts of burden, seen by the world either as tools for use or pets for enjoyment. And all of their fighting instincts had nowhere to go.
At that five hundredth Turn, they panicked. Some began attacking clouds and birds, anything they could find in the sky that could even possibly be mistaken for Thread; some fell into a catatonic state of shock, unresponsive to all but their riders.
Sinthera Weyr, far in the North, was hit the hardest. The newest Weyr, it had the youngest dragons - the least experienced, the most excitable, the least able to imagine a world without a purpose. They were not used to accepting things the way they were, and their young, fresh instincts were the strongest.
Eventually, the panic eased. The shock began to settle down, the dragons were reassured by their riders, and everyone thought the worst was over.
They were wrong. The dragons' panic and anxiety had translated to stress - and as we all know, stress can result in less-than-desirable consequences, both mental and physical.
Strange things began to happen at Sinthera.
Against the odds, a green clutched. That was all well enough. After all, dragon numbers were dwindling, and most dragons hadn't chewed firestone for centuries. And the clutch was, to all appearances, a fine and healthy addition to the species. A few more greens and blues wouldn't hurt anyone, would they? But, come Hatching time, it became obvious that something was off. The eggs were fine, the dragonets were wrong - a green the size of a brown, a dead miniature bronze, a strange black creature, a white, a turquoise hatchling shaped more like a wher than a dragon, a gold that was not fully female.
Three Turns later, that very gold, who had become senior queen with the death of the only other gold at Sinthera, Chased after a Rising green.
That same gold, days afterward, Rose, and was Chased and Caught by blue Yidoxeth.
The Weyr was shocked. Some were scandalized by the whole affair, but most only shook their heads over it. That would probably be the end of dragons at Sinthera. Who would have thought that this bizarre coupling could actually produce a Clutch? If one did, everyone expected it to be a clutch of greens and blues, perhaps a brown if they were lucky.
But the clutch was huge. No one had seen a clutch of over twenty in hundreds of Turns, let alone forty-seven. And not one, not two, but three gleaming golden eggs lay on the Sands. None of the eggs were the right size, either; even the smallest were far larger than the eggs that had been laid lately. They were more like the eggs of days long past, eggs the likes of which hadn’t been seen in five hundred Turns.
And as it turned out, they weren’t right, not in the slightest.
All clutchmothers are aggressively protective, but Zajadisth was overly so. The only other one allowed near the eggs was Yidoxeth; anyone else was killed on sight, unless someone arrived in a very timely fashion and could save them from their wounds. No humans, not even the parents' riders themselves, were allowed anywhere near the Hatching Sands. When the time came for the eggs to hatch, the Candidates had to wait against the stands, as far from the eggs as they could get, and the parents of the clutch hid each egg’s hatching, allowed the hatchling to go forth and find its partner only once they were positive it would be alright.
The first few eggs went perfectly well. Wonderfully, even. A bronze, a blue, two greens, a brown, another blue, and three more greens emerged, found their humans, and left the Sands to find food. They were unusual, all of them huge for their color, but that was expected given the size of the eggs, and there was nothing else different, nothing wrong.
That changed with the tenth egg.
It was one of the glistening queen eggs. Zajadisth wouldn’t let anyone see the egg crack, so no one but Yidoxeth knew why she gave a surprised bugle at the hatchling- but they soon found out. The golden mother fell away from her daughter, ichor dripping from her chest, and everyone stared in shock as the hatchling- not the gold, for it was no gold- stormed past, attacking her father. Unable to counterattack his own daughter, Yidoxeth backed away, half-panicked, nearly smashing open three eggs before realizing the hatchling had moved on, at which point he became calm again.
So, the spectators realized, maybe this hatchling was gold after all. As she moved the light caught the sheen of gold that lay over her hide, throwing it out from her like an aura. But she seemed more bronze than anything, a deep copper cast with gold, with two lines of silver slashing across her eyes and tracing down to the tip of her tail. The candidates panicked as she approached, many shoving each other in their haste to get out of her way - wisely, for she walked over those in her way without a second thought, their screams reverberating through the stunned, silent air. Not finding what she was looking for, she leaped up, fluttering into the stands - such early prowess at flight would have been a cause to celebrate, under different circumstances - and beginning a new rampage there.
She calmed almost immediately, however, and sat, wrapping her tail docilely around her paws as she stretched her nose toward a young boy of no more than seven or eight Turns. Her eyes, previously a dual spiral of red and yellow, turned rainbow as the boy threw his arms around her neck and whispered her name. ”Idraveth,” he said, his voice warm and blissful, in one word forgiving her for the carnage and promising that he would always remain, at her side, as he had always meant to be.Come, Mine,
she told him, not bothering to hide her words from the rest of the Sands. Let us leave these fools behind and be free, as we were meant to be.
The boy happily clambered onto her back, helped along by her gentle nose, and as his terrified mother lurched forward to take him back, the bronze-copper-gold rose into the air and went between.
The hatching had been continuing, forgotten, and now the unnoticed hatchlings raced forward, some helping their injured chosen, some walking proudly off the sands. They were normal, every last one of them, and continued to be so.
At last only the two golden eggs remained. They were silent- duds, many whispered. Zajadisth and Yidoxeth, refusing to believe it, each went to an egg, tapping gently with their claws.
Answering taps resounded from both eggs.
As one they exploded, as though the dragons inside had planned it. Their parents had to bring their wings up to cover their faces, but luckily no one else was near enough to be hurt, most of the candidates gone and those who remained pressed against the stands in apprehensive fear. The dragonets rose to their hind legs, bugling their arrival to the world, standing next to each other as though to make the difference in their hides obvious for all to see. One, obviously male, was black as the darkest night, the color broken only by the smallest points of light, while the other was almost a proper queen, her hide pale, gleaming gold, and would have been but for the black and gray lines that snaked across her.
As one, without even looking at the candidates, they went between.
None of them were ever seen or heard from again, and many presumed that they had gone to their deaths, though the parents had not keened once. The boy, in fact the young Lord of a nearby Hold, who had been chosen by Idraveth was mourned as dead, and a new leader was selected for the holdings he had left behind. Over time, the incident faded, almost but not quite forgotten. Yidoxeth lost Zajadisth's next Flight to a bronze, and life went on as normal.
Until fifteen Turns later, when a journeyman beastcrafter, traveling in the mountains, saw a sight that made him turn his runner around and flee - a dragon, bronze with lines of copper and a golden aura, streaking across the sky, followed by a male black as night with points of light in his hide, another of cloudy green and orange and deep blue, still another so brilliant shining silver that he hurt to look at.
All of a sudden, the ever-increasing disappearances of children under fourteen Turns were explained.
The lost dragons of Sinthera were forgotten, but not gone.
A Turn has passed since then. Some are excited about finding the ferals, but most most are terrified for themselves and especially their children - no one wants their young children to be taken as candidates to a hidden and unknown Weyr among seemingly vicious dragons. Some blame Zajadisth, some blame the long-dead green that Clutched her, and some blamed Yidoxeth; one person even managed to get close enough to murder his female rider, who had just become Weyrleader again (the news of their rediscovered children seemed to have strengthen the bond between the two dragons once more), throwing Sinthera Weyr into even more turmoil. The more that is discovered about the feral dragons, the more questions arise, and the more people come to fear them.
What are these creatures, born of aggression and fear, capable of? How did they survive? Why, despite their obvious scorn for other dragons, have they once again allowed themselves to be seen?
What happens when those born to protect turn to attack?